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Gluten Free Gluttony: Macaroni Cheese!!

Gluten Free Gluttony: Macaroni Cheese!!

Well, Summer is over (not that we really had any Summer here in Cardiff…) and it’s getting colder & darker outside.  Don’t worry, I’ve found a way to make you feel warm & cosy inside – gluten free, lactose free Mac n Cheese!!  Hot, oozy, carby goodness; it’s the perfect time of year for it!  Shut your eyes to the calories, shut your eyes to the mess you will make in your kitchen (pour yourself a glass of wine if you need to!!) roll up your sleeves and prepare to make magic…

 

a real winter warmer…

Ingredients:

For the Sauce…

  • 20g gluten free flour
  • 200ml lactofree milk (or soy milk / dairy free milk)
  • 200ml veg stock  – cold (I used gf/df bouillon powder)
  • 20g dairy free spread (eg Vitalite)
  • 150g grated Lactofree cheese (* please note this cheese is not suitable for vegetarians)
  • black pepper to taste

Also…

  • 250g gluten free dried pasta
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 150g sliced button mushrooms
  • knob of dairy free spread
  • handful chopped spinach leaves
  • 250g halved pomodorino tomatoes (or just small / cherry tomatoes)
  • 100g grated Lactofree cheese for the top

 

Method:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200C, and put a large pan of water on to boil (salt if you wish)
  • Use this time to chop/slice/weigh/grate…
  • Add your pasta to the boiling water (and boil for about 10-12 minutes, or until soft)
  • In a frying pan, melt knob of butter and fry onion & mushroom until just browned, then turn off the heat

Meanwhile make the Sauce…

  • In a jug add a little of the milk to the flour and whisk until there are no lumps
  • Add the rest of the milk and the cold stock and mix well
  • Pour into a cold saucepan, add the dairy free spread and heat gently, whisking frequently
  • Once mixture is almost boiling, mix in the cheese to melt, and bring to a very gentle simmer
  • Season to taste with black pepper, and simmer for a few minutes until thickened

Now for the Magic…

  • Once the pasta is soft, drain and return to the saucepan
  • Mix in the onion, mushroom, chopped spinach & cheese sauce
  • Spoon this all into oven proof dish (I like to use individual ‘pie’ dishes – or just use one large, preferably shallow one)
  • Layer the halved tomatoes on top, sprinkle over the remaining grated cheese, and pop in the oven
  • Bake for around 30 minutes, until bubbling, and cheese has turned a lovely golden brown
  • Serve with something naughty & comforting (I did chunky chips, skins on, seasoned with fresh rosemary…)

 

This was B’s idea tonight. I was going to do Spag Bol – I fancied something hot & pasta heavy; but this is B’s favourite and I haven’t made it for a while, so it was a no brainer! I got 3 very generous portions from the above quantities (greedy, gluttonous portions!).  The perfect meal for when you need something starchy & carb-heavy, with the added comfort of cheesiness! The only downside I can see to this is the washing up (thankfully, that’s B’s domain!) and the fact that you’ll burn your tongue again and again because it’s so delicious that you won’t have the patience to wait for it to cool before putting it in your mouth (think of the moth & the lightbulb from the kitkat advert…). Enjoy!

 

Sexy Spaghetti Bolognese (gluten & dairy free!)

Sexy Spaghetti Bolognese (gluten & dairy free!)

Spag Bol, as it’s commonly known here, is a classic.  It’s simple, and everyone loves it.  I’ve often heard Gino D’acampo say that in Italy, you won’t have spaghetti with bolognese – but since I can’t seem to get gluten free tagliatelle, or fettuccine, gluten free spaghetti will have to do.  And it does, quite nicely!

Truthfully, I had never eaten spaghetti bolognese until I met B  7 years ago, and then, it meant frying some beef mince and onion, stirring in a jar of sauce, and putting it on some spaghetti.  If that sounds like your version, next time you’re at the shop, instead of buying that jar of ‘sauce’, just pick up a carton of tomato passata.  It couldn’t be simpler to make it from scratch, and surely far cheaper than buying a gluten free sauce.

I’ve been off work for a little while with a bad foot, so I seem to have watched a lot of daytime TV, and have picked up some tips too.  Gino alwas says that you never put the sauce on top of the pasta; you always put the pasta into the sauce. This might well be common knowledge, but it’s not the way I used to do it, and it seems to make on hell of a difference!  Anyway, I know most people have their own recipe for this family favourite, but incase, like me, you’d always made it using a jar of sauce, here’s my ridiculously easy yet amazingly tasty version of ‘Spag Bol”…

Ingredients:

250g lean beef mince

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

4 mini portabella mushrooms, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and pressed / finely chopped

500g tomato passata (sieved tomatoes, from a carton)

1 whole dried bay leaf

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp each of dried oregano, dried basil, dried parsley

250g gluten free spaghetti (I used corn)

Method:

  • In a large saucepan, add about 1tbsp olive oil to the mince, and break it up with the back of a spoon, while on a low heat
  • Once the mince has started to brown, add the onion, mushrooms and red pepper
  • Once the veggies have softened and the mince is pretty much cooked, add the garlic and stir through
  • Now add the passata, and turn up the heat to bring it to a simmer
  • Mix in the black pepper, oregano and basil, and bury the bayleaf, whole, in the sauce
  • Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes (add the parsley in for the last 5 minutes of cooking)
  • Meanwhile put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta (I don’t salt my water; I don’t see the need, but do so if you must)
  • Put your spaghetti into the boiling water, and cook for 8-9 minutes, until it is ‘al dente’ – cooked but firm
  • Drain your spaghetti, and put it into your bolognese sauce, mixing well
  • Give your spaghetti about a minute to soak up some sauce, then serve and enjoy!

Easy! So that’s how I do it.  I get 3 good servings from this, so it feeds me and B, with leftovers for his lunch tomorrow.  I use dried herbs, but if you have fresh to hand then use those instead.  One day I’ll have a little herb garden up and running, but until then, my dried herbs will serve me well.

SaucySaturday: Smoky Salami Pasta (gluten & dairy free!)

Saturdays are meant to be fun, free and easy, yes? That’s why, on a Saturday, I like to make food that’s quick and simple.  It still needs to be tasty though, and it still needs to keep B happy, since he’s jumped on the gluten & lactose free bandwagon with me, to make life easier.  Tonight, we fancied pasta.  Pasta and olives.

I should probably explain that this isn’t strictly just ‘salami’ pasta – I used some smoked streaky bacon, too.  I had some salami left over from last night’s epic pizzathon, and some bacon in the fridge ready for the mandatory Sunday bacon sandwich, so I used a bit of both.

 

Ingredients:

5 slices of salami, chopped

4 rashers smoked streaky bacon, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced / finely chopped

1 small green chilli, finely chopped (deseed for less heat)

500ml tomato passata

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp black pepper

175g dry GF pasta (I used Sainsburys corn penne)

 

Method:

  • Put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta
  • In a drizzle of oil, heat the salami and bacon in a large saucepan for around 5 minutes over a fairly high heat, until they start to brown
  • Add the chopped pepper to the pan, turn down the heat, and stir through, allowing to cook for a few more minutes
  • Add the garlic and chilli, and heat for no more than a further 30 seconds (burned garlic will become bitter, and by this stage the pan will be hot so it will cook quickly)
  • Now stir in the passata, and season with the smoked paprika and black pepper

While the sauce simmers, it’s time to add the pasta to the boiling water.  Simmer for about 7 minutes, until the pasta is cooked but still firm – ‘al dente’

  • Drain the pasta, and quickly stir it into the sauce
  • Allow the pasta to heat in the sauce for about a minute, and then serve!

This made enough to feed 2 hungry people.  Me and B are always greedy hungry.

Of course, pasta loves a side of olives.  Stuffed olives, to be more precise.  I had bought a jar of ready-pitted olives, and really fancied stuffing them with lactofree cheese. Tonight was the first time I attempted the ancient art of olive-stuffing, and it was a bit fiddly, but turned out great, with the use of the back of a small spoon.  Then I dressed them in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of tomato puree, and about 1/2 a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.  They were yum, if I do say so myself!

So that was my Saucy Saturday.  Now sat with B, sipping a GF lager, and watching the Bodyguard.  Perfect weekend :)

 

Homemade Vegetable Lasagne (gluten & lactose free)

Homemade vegetable lasagne, just as it should be; hot, oozy and messy, with garden peas & chunky chips!

I don’t have the inclination to let it rest long enough for the layers to firm up properly. That’s just because I’m greedy and by the time it comes out of the oven I want to just put my face in the lasagne pan.  This is a vegetable lasagne without any weird mycro-protein-whatever-textured-stuff… just vegetables & tomatoes, with a homemade white sauce (made with lactofree milk & cheese, and gluten free flour).  I have been known to make my own pasta sheets for this but tonight I used sainsburys gluten free pasta sheets (dry).

Ingredients:

  • for the vegetables…

2 small yellow onions, finely chopped

1 small red pepper, finely chopped

2 good sized courgettes, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced / finely chopped

500g carton of tomato passata (sieved tomatoes)

1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp basil

1/4 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp mustard powder

  • for the sauce:

20g plain gluten free flour

200ml stock (COLD!)

200ml lactofree milk

knob of ‘butter’ (or dairy free spread)

100g grated lactofree cheese

black pepper & parsley to taste

  • also…

250g dry lasagne sheets

100g grated lactofree cheese for the top

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and start with the vegetables…

  • in a large pan, heat the onion and pepper in a little oil until they start to soften
  • add the courgette and heat for around 5 minutes until it softens
  • add the garlic, stir through, and then add the passata
  • stir in the basil, mustard and oregano, and add the whole bay leaf
  • bring this to a simmer and heat for 10 or 15 minutes before turning off the heat

Meanwhile sort the cheese sauce…

  • add a little milk to the flour and whisk until there are no lumps, then add the rest of the milk
  • mix in the stock, and pour it all into a cold saucepan
  • add the butter to the pan, and heat very gently, whisking, until it comes to a simmer
  • stir in the cheese before adding the parsley and black pepper to taste
  • keep it on a gentle heat, and keep an eye on it while you begin to assemble the lasagne

To layer the lasagne…

  • oil / grease a lasagne pan (24x28cm works well) and cover the bottom with the pasta sheets
  • onto that add a layer of vegetables, then a little cheese sauce on top of that
  • repeat the pasta – vegetables – cheese sauce layering until you come to your last sheets of pasta
  • top the final sheets of pasta with a thick layer of cheese sauce, then sprinkle over the grated cheese
  • pop this in the oven for 30 minutes

Once it’s cooked and the cheese is golden brown, take it out of the oven, and ideally let it rest for 20 minutes – this will allow the layers to firm up and it will be easier to cut and serve… me, I don’t have the patience for that, but if you’re cooking for guests you might want to.

This is one of those dishes that’s so tasty and satisfying, it really doesn’t need meat (or ‘fake’ soya-protein-pretend-meat).  This recipe might come in useful to any omnivores looking to give up meat for lent! :)

Food for Lovers: Spicy Chorizo Pasta (gluten & dairy free)

This is what I made for myself and hubby last night, our Valentine’s dinner. It’s the simplicity of Italy married with the fire of Spain. I don’t have a picture of it because, truthfully I got carried away eating it, but if you imagine; pieces of orange pepper and spicy sausage peeking out from under the penne pasta, smothered in blood red sauce with flecks of green basil running through it… you’ve got the idea. There were many reasons why I chose this. Firstly, tomatoes are red; the colour of love & passion. Secondly, meat is a supposed aphrodisiac, and there is little sexier than chorizo.  Lastly, a bowl of pasta is quick to make – which means more time to spend with your OH :)

Ingredients:

200g gluten free pasta (dry weight) – I used corn penne pasta

250g chorizo (chopped however you like)

1 red or orange pepper

5 (approx) medium mushrooms (chopped)

1 stick celery, finely chopped

1 clove garlic (peeled & minced)

400ml tomato passata

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp basil

Method:

  • Bring a large pan of water to the boil (for the pasta)
  • In a large deep pan, heat chorizo in a little oil, for 4-5 minutes (it will sizzle and spit so be careful)
  • Add the mushrooms, pepper and celery and continue to heat until they soften
  • Add the garlic at the last minute, stir through before adding the passata
  • Season with paprika, cayenne, and basil, then allow to simmer while you cook the pasta
  • Add pasta to the boiling water, and cook until al dente – firm (this is because you will finish cooking the pasta in the sauce)
  • Corn pasta is usually al dente after about 7 minutes, so then drain it and quickly throw it into the sauce, stir through and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes longer
  • That’s it, serve, and enjoy!

This worked well with a little tapenade of olives and cheese, a mocktail of white grape, elderflower, pomegranate & blueberry juice, followed with strawberries & cherries dipped (seductively of course) in melted dairy free chocolate. Who am I kidding – you can’t dip anything seductively in chocolate because it ultimately ends up all over your face, but it was a nice touch.

Recipe: Sticky Peanut Noodle Stir Fry (gluten and dairy free)

I found some gluten free brown rice noodles at the supermarket (finally) so I had to make this! The great thing about stir-frying is that you can chuck in whatever veg you have lying around (or meat, if you’re that way inclined), make it as big or as small as you need, and it takes 15 minutes to make. What makes this one special is the peanut sauce!

Ingredients:

250g gluten free brown rice noodles (dry weight)

1 head brocolli, broken into small florets

2 carrots, thinly sliced

1 red pepper, chopped

1 stick celery, chopped

1 red chilli, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp lazy ginger (or a 2cm piece of fresh ginger)

For the Peanut Sauce:

125g Whole Earth Smooth Peanut Butter

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp gluten free tamari sauce

1 tbsp honey (or agave nectar to make it vegan)

1 tbsp water

juice of 1 lime

50g sesame seeds

Method:

  • Put a large pan of water on to boil for the noodles, and meanwhile chop the veg for the stir fry
  • Pop your noodles into the boiling water, and add your veg to a hot pan with some oil (leave the chilli & garlic out for now)
  • Mix together the ingredients for the sauce
  • The noodles and the stir fry should both only take around 5 minutes, so at the last minute, add the garlic and chilli to the stir fry
  • Mix the peanut sauce in with the stir fry, then drain your noodles.
  • Add your noodles to the stir fry pan, and mix well (the rice noodles can be a bit sticky and stubborn, but persevere for a minute) then take off the heat and serve immediately!

This was supposed to make enough for me and OH tonight, with one dish left over for lunch tomorrow, but OH liked it so much he polished it all off tonight. So it must have been good :)

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